Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum: Lets go to the movies!

It took living near Exeter, Devon for over fourteen years, before my mum heard about the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in a chance conversation.
So at the first opportunity we went. We hadn't a clue what to expect.
This was my first trip to a museum on a university campus.
Actually this is not strictly true as the Grant Museum, UCL may count.

Bill Douglas was a keen cinema goer, a film maker and a collector of all things cinema and moving image. Of the 75,000 objects, over 1,000 are on display.

He began his obsession with the cinema as a child, preferring the cinema, 'the other world', to being at home or at school, his 'hated realities'.
He began making films in the 1960s and that's when his collecting really took off.

He didn't appear to have been collecting any one thing, like badges, posters, tickets, programmes, magazines or such like.
He collected EVERYTHING!!!

So to begin the tour

I use the M-word, despite being brought up going to the 'pictures', as this is all about the moving image.

Where do you want to sit?

 A worthy way to advertise a film studio. 'Educational'.

There are quite a few films on at the moment.

We got totally engrossed in the story of The Black Sheep.
No strap-lines to advertise this film, it's worthy of lengthy narration.

I love the way these colour posters advertise black & white films.

Or perhaps go and see a classic. He's back! Gritting his teeth, holding a gun and snogging!
Has anything changed?

Once you start collecting film memorabilia, the possibilities are endless.

Books and games

...minatures and baking cases

...plastic toys

...telephones and alarm clocks

...playing cards

...albums and mugs and writing sets

...lollipop holders and board games


...police boxes

...and bottle stoppers.
Greta Garbo looks a lot more used than Rita Hayworth.

Then their are all the collectables to remember your favourite film stars by.

There are many magazines to chose from.
"Ooh I used to get that every week!", my mum.

Some people kept scrap-books (remember them) about their favourite film stars.

And if that wasn't enough, you get a map 'with home addresses',
with a red line to take you from the home of one star to the other.

The End.

Coming soon...
For your next showing, we go to the 'Flicks'.
To see what was around before the moving image, when pictures 'flickered'.

There is truly so much to see at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. All this and more.
His passion for the cinema is infectious, you cannot help but be carried along, on a wave of enthusiasm, throughout the whole museum.
It is open seven days a week with details about the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum here.

You can tell I'm not a film buff. I found the Mickey Mouse baking cases too exciting! 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Presenting dolls from around the world, but nothing for the One Direction fan.

"I love dolls", began our conversation, between myself and a nine year old visitor.

So I showed her this cabinet in the Horniman Museum
Raffia Doll & Stick, Zambia, Africa
 "Oh, they're so cute."
"What! even that one." I'm not sure I should have passed judgement.
Cute isn't a word, I'd have used.

"That looks like Snow-White."
 I can see where she's coming from.
North America


 "I love the colours and the pattern. Look at her hair, it looks really beautiful."
"You could try doing your hair like that at home", I suggested.
"Oh but I've only bought five bobbles with me."

She told me all about visiting her Aunt and Uncle in South East London for the school holidays and she hadn't packed the kind of hair accessories needed to replicate this Japanese doll's hairstyle.


 But she wouldn't have minded borrowing these shoes to try on her dolls at home.

We had a great chat about dolls.

That conversation progressed a lot further than the teenager who put me firmly in my place, halting any attempt I made to help her to engage with the collection.
Me, keenly, "What are you interested in?"
She cut me dead with, "One Direction", oh, and a grunt.
There wasn't anywhere I could go with that reply. There are no One Direction dolls in the Horniman Museum, although I believe they do exist.

All the dolls pictured above can be found in the Horniman Museum's Hands-on Base, Discovery For All session, open Sundays.
Details on their website here. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Locked Up

Chatting with my family in the Museum of London...

"Imagine being locked up in London in the eighteenth century?"

"Would it have been dark all the time?"
"It would have been light during the day as there's a window, but there's no glass."

What would you do all day?
Scratch your name and the date into the walls... The writing is quite striking, he must been there long enough to make such a beautiful job of it.

"Edward Burk's been here before. What for?"

Or perhaps scratch out a building...

It must have been a very unpleasant experience to have been locked up in this Newgate prison cell in the eighteenth century. Today, in the twenty-first century, this cell is on display in the Museum of London.
What would Edward Burk make of this? The walls he scratched his name into, the dark, cold cell he was locked up in, now preserved behind glass as a museum artefact.  

Without being locked up, you can go 'inside' the Wellclose prison cell at the Museum of London in the 'Expanding City' gallery. Details on the website here.

Jumping to the beginning of the nineteenth century to the Teign Heritage Centre, Teignmouth Museum in Devon, this prison window from Teignmouth, may not have have been as secure as the prison guards had hoped.

The building from which this window came, began life as a quayside store for saltcod, which during the Napoleonic wars was used as a prison. It may not have met prison security requirements.
According to local legend, around this time a Teignmouth trading schooner, the Griffeth, was stolen from the quayside by six escaped French prisoners.

'There is no record of the recapture of the boat or the prisoners and they were never heard of again'.

Quite a feat stealing a ship from the Teign estuary, acurate timing needed, once through that prison window, they would have had to wait for high tide to negotiate the tidal port.  
As for 'never heard of again'. Well they got a mention in the local museum.

Details and opening times about the Teign Heritage Centre here.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

London Passion Week

London Passion Week is a great community art exhibition in Deptford, South East London put on by the Bear church.

It explores the Easter story, through the stations of the cross.
Instead of a passion play, the story is told through a passion exhibition.

From the last supper... the resurrection.

Many different people contributed to the telling of the Easter story,

the very young in the creche,

pre-schoolers in the playgroup,

 and children with their parents.

Told by people who like...


brazing (a kind of welding)...




and flowers.

Some pieces of work were made by the church community,

contemplating promises,

 and betrayal, by a kiss.

 Visitors also get to take part, take two sticks and some yarn. 

Whatever your take on Easter, this affords an opportunity over the bank holiday weekend to pause and contemplate its meaning.

Chatting to visitors, I got to hear more about Easter, their thoughts and experiences...
...of huge Easter processions in Columbia, South America, and 'fun' Easter activities in a Croydon primary school.
No mention of chocolate by anybody.

There still may be time to see this exhibition. It closes at 4pm Saturday 19th April 2014.
The Shaftesbury Christian Centre, Frankham St, Deptford, SE8 4RN.
More details on the Facebook page here.  

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